Etsy: There are more than 13,500 results for fingerless gloves alone in this giant online haven for handmade goods. While known for its knitting, crocheting, jewelry, candles and other smaller items, the site's broadly defined mission of making handmade items readily available also applies to furniture, artwork and even shaving sets. While dealing with the sheer volume of the world's largest craft sale and artisan village can be a little daunting, it's worth taking the time to at least select a one-of-a-kind item if you have neither the time nor skill to make it yourself.
Perpetual Kid: Though there's a lot of fun stuff for kids on this vibrant novelty site -- including a mold for a cake that looks like a giant sandwich ($19.99), the 4-pound World's Largest Gummi Bear ($29.95) and giant ice cream cone lamps ($39.99) -- some of the more fun offerings definitely skew a bit older. A mold for shot glasses made of ice ($6.99), plunger-shaped Apple iPhone stands ($5.99) and a knife block shaped like your ex ($69.99) seem to have bigger kids in mind.
Noisebot: If you or someone on your list's love of pop culture and overall geekery is matched only by your desire to display that love in the most public way possible, this is the T-shirt depository for you. For roughly $23 a pop, your shirts can tell those around you that you still can't shake Mandy Patinkin's attempt at a Spanish accent in The Princess Bride out of your head 23 years later, that IT is your job and not your hobby or that your college days aren't quite in the rearview.
Uncommon Goods: While big on the handmade gifts, Uncommon Goods' least common offerings are usually cool recycled knick-knacks such as coasters made from vinyl records ($17.50) and Quincy, Ill., elementary school chalkboard slate coasters ($35), goblets made from old windshields ($35) and wallets made of unused bicycle tubes ($35). Sure, there are still fun first-run products such as high-heel cake servers ($15) and cold, no-melt whiskey stones ($19.50 to $58), but recycled pool-ball bottle stoppers ($30) and bottle openers made from the floors and Plexiglas hockey boards of Madison Square Garden and Boston Garden ($65 to $75) are a much tougher find.The Tech Museum: The first of two museum shops on our list, the Silicon Valley-based Tech Museum mixes in educational toys and books with genuine geek fun, such as shirts mourning Pluto's demotion from planet status ($20) and gadgets including a robotic T-Rex that can climb windows, mirrors and filing cabinets ($14.99). Though the Tech Museum's store is a great complement to its exhibits, its slow and outdated website could pose as one. Please be patient. Despair.com: Want to counter the human resources head who hangs motivational posters of dangling cats, flowing rivers and large, meaningful words in big, colorful type around the office? Put up some of Despair's "Demotivators" near your cubicle and see if he catches that your sign blaring the all-caps word "ADVERSITY" ($15.95) at your co-workers also tells them "That which does not kill me just postpones the inevitable." Despair also makes full calendars of its posters for $13 to $30, as well as mugs, laptop skins and mouse pads. If the next person on your list is a little too young to be ground under the heel of corporate culture, why not spring for a Lose Your Own Adventure book that's just like the choose-your-own-adventure volumes of your youth, but with much greater potential for epic failure. If the little ones are ever going to climb their way to the middle, they'll have to start early. Ugly Sweater Shoppe: From Bill Cosby's Cosby Show attire of choice to what your aunt believes is passable holiday formalwear, the ugly sweater is as ingrained in the American holiday fabric as spilled egg nog or greasy latke drippings. The folks at Ugly Sweater Shoppe realize this and, while advocating for seasonal ugly sweater parties, offer consumers such cringeworthy winter garments as the nautical-themed Red Neck Yacht Club sweater ($12.69), the Aztec Ugliness cardigan and the I Got Your Tackle Box Right Here turtleneck ($12.69). It's all thrift-store finds, and it's all as ugly as a holiday spirit-fueled religious debate, but if tacky ties and questionable vests are what it takes to get through the next month, then let the aesthetically abhorrent party in America begin. Moma Store: Our list's second museum shop is less about exhibits and artifacts and more about the cool design elements visitors long for. Think of this as Target for art and design students. Among the more popular offerings are ceramic version of New York's famed Anthora coffee cup ($14), an umbrella with a Monet-like skyscape underneath ($48), a tray set that makes perfect ice spheres ($16) and a transparent Louis XVI-style armchair ($410). Whoopass Enterprises: If it works for minor league baseball teams and Dwight Schrute on NBC's The Office, a bobblehead doll should easily fit the bill for even the most difficult soul on your holiday shopping list. Fortunately, this is all Whoopass Enterprises does. Its entire existence wobbles atop a base of sport-, work-, vehicle-, kid-, sports-, wedding-, graduation- and even pet-themed custom bobblehead dolls. For $75 to upward of $250, consumers can submit photos of themselves or their bobblehead's recipient, change hair and eye color and clothing, with upgrades such as tattoos, glasses and digital voice recordings available for $3 to $20 more. -- Written by Jason Notte in Boston.
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